Airbnb and Bachcare targeted by NZ cancellation policy complaints

New Zealand: Airbnb and New Zealand-based property management company Bachcare are the subject of a complaint from consumer protection organisation Consumer NZ due to the companies’ cancellation policies.

The organisation is requesting court action on the policies, based on their “unfair terms”.

Consumer NZ has identified Airbnb’s cancellation policies, which it claims favours hosts over customers. It has received many complaints following the country’s second lockdown in August, which has resulted in some customers reportedly losing hundreds of dollars.

Chief executive Jon Duffy told Star News: “Consumers who had booked accommodation but couldn’t travel because of the lockdown told us they’d been denied a full refund. Even though they couldn’t use the accommodation, through no fault of their own, they were informed they wouldn’t get their money back. That’s plainly unfair.”

Bachcare was slated over a policy which states that a customer will lose all accommodation fees and the service fee, even if they cancel 60 days before the start of their stay, according to Duffy.

Duffy added: “In our view, these charges are excessive. If an accommodation provider imposes a cancellation fee, it can’t just charge whatever it wants.

“Companies must have a legitimate basis for their fees and take into account the fact the property could be relet to another customer. It’s hard to argue the fees being charged to Airbnb and Bachcare customers are in any way justified,” he added.

Duffy’s organisation reached out to both companies, asking whether or not their terms were compliant with the country’s Fair Trading Act. Consumer NZ added that it had not received any satisfying responses.

Cancellations have caused consumer outrage in other companies, especially regarding the global pandemic. Cottages.com and Hoseasons were the most recent instance of this, with cancellations occurring due to a systems overload.

Consumer NZ specifically requested a court declaration from the Commerce Committee on the grounds that the cancellations at the heart of the complaints were “unfair”. Any term that is deemed unfair by a court can no longer be enforced by a trader afterwards.